His name is Donkey

I’ve been playing Donkey Kong Country 2 lately. Actually I should say I’ve been trying to play Donkey Kong Country 2 lately. Because I am terrible at it. It isn’t my fault though, at least not completely.

DKC2 is a great game. The controls are perfect and the levels are inventive. All of the items set Rare up for the collectathon fall they eventually suffered, but it is at about the perfect amount here. Finding most of the various coins is the point of the game, and they are all cleverly hidden so far. My problem with the game is not about the gameplay at all.

No, my problem is with the graphics. Not so much with how they look, though I do prefer the look of traditional sprites, but with how indistinct I find the various barriers. I jump on a platform, only to find out that it is merely something in the background. I jump over a spiked enemy, but die because the game says I did not make it over. One time I would just assume I misjumped, but more than half of my deaths are from hits I find questionable. I simply cannot “read” DKC2’s graphics.

It conflicts terribly with how buttery smooth the gameplay is. If the game was terrible, I’d just put it down and not look back, but as long as I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing, it is loads of fun. On minute I’m hopping back and forth on honeyed walls in a giant beehive, the next I’m falling to my doom because … I don’t know… maybe I didn’t get to the wall?

These troubles have peaked with the stage Bramble Scramble. The level is 80% killer thorns and the player must lead Diddy on vines from platform to platform, avoid enemies. It is a great idea for a level. Unfortunately, half of the level involves flying with Squawks, a parrot that carries the protagonist through the level. There are spikes above and below, but because Diddy is being carried by the parrot it is impossible to see when he will hit the spikes above him. I have continued no less that 5 times on this one stage. I doesn’t help that the game isn’t consistent in what are deadly spikes and what isn’t. I have jumped through the spikes wall and not been harmed, but the barest edging up against them in some areas spells instant death.

I’m going to keep plugging away. The game is just too much fun to put down. I will not be conquered by a 15 year old platformer. I simply won’t let that happen.